Larry’s Thoughts on the New MacPro

Posted: October 27, 2013

First, let’s be clear: The new MacPro is not yet shipping. So, like a group of blind folks describing an elephant, we are getting a lot of different opinions on what this new animal is.

Second, the instant Apple revealed it at the WWDC last spring, I wanted one.

Third, buying new hardware is stressful and expensive; especially when it comes to hardware essential to our business.

So, the question I want to answer today is: Since I need to save my pennies to buy this, where do I get the best bang for the buck? And my answers are the same if I were working with Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere CC, or audio editing in ProTools or Audition.

If money means nothing to you, then buy the system with all the bells and whistles. Then, sit back and smirk while the rest of us hate you. For most of us, buying hardware is a trade-off between what we want and what we can afford. In other words, if finding the balance between the best performance at the best price is important to you, this article is for you.

BACKGROUND

Last week, Apple posted more details about the MacPro (including performance and tech specs): http://www.apple.com/mac-pro/

They also announced two configurations: a four-core CPU system starting at $2,999 and a six-core CPU system starting at $3,999. Within those two categories, Apple has not yet announced any other options or pricing. The MacPro is scheduled to ship in December. No date was announced.

Based on what we know, there are five areas we can spend money on with this unit:

  • CPU Cores
  • CPU Speed
  • GPU
  • STORAGE, both internal and external
  • RAM

So, given these choices, where should we spend our money?

WHERE’S THE BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK?

Surprisingly, it isn’t the CPU. Any CPU today can easily edit video – even high-resolution video. If you are editing single stream video, even high-resolution, the four-core system will be more than adequate. More cores will be helpful with multicam editing.

Because rendering and exporting is off-loaded to the GPU, a screamingly-fast CPU is not as important as it was in years past. Again, more cores and faster CPU speed is nice, but no longer essential. There are better places to put your money.

Specifically, the best place to spend your money is on the GPU. Get the fastest one you can afford, with as much VRAM as possible. Whether you are editing with Premiere Pro CC or Final Cut Pro X, both max out GPU performance.

RAM is user-upgradeable. This means that you can buy less than you might ultimately need, then upgrade as RAM prices come down and third-party vendors provide reliable upgrades. For me, I’d start with a minimum of 8 GB, then add RAM via third-parties.

NOTE: I don’t expect a lot of RAM options to be available at launch. It will probably take suppliers like Kingston – www.kingston.com – or Crucial – www.crucial.com – a while to ramp up to meet demand.

SECOND NOTEI spoke with the folks at Kingston earlier today, who told me that, according to the specs of the MacPro: “It can take [RAM] up to 1866MHz in speed, and up to 16GB modules in each of the four slots.  We will have memory for this.  [Since] the product will be released in December we don’t have an ETA on our memory yet.”

STORAGE

The Mac Pro supports up to 1 TB of SSD (Solid State Drive) storage. First, you don’t need that much, and second, I’m not convinced SSDs are the way to go for media. Instead, an SSD drive is ideally suited for the boot drive. I have an SSD-enhanced iMac (a Fusion drive) that goes from powered off to fully operational in nine seconds. I expect the MacPro to be even faster.

SSD drives are ideal for files that are accessed over and over. This means that you get the best performance when accessing operating system and application files. This also means that you don’t need to get the biggest SSD; the OS and applications you get will never fill it.

Let me give you a specific example. On my current MacPro, my Application folder contains the entire Adobe CS6 and CC Suites, plus the entire Final Cut Studio (3) Suite, FCP X, and every plug-in and software gewgaw known to the mind of man. And the total Application folder takes only 42 GB to store.

In fact, everything on my boot drive – EVERYTHING – is only 220 GB. (And that includes a desktop folder that holds more files than I will ever admit to storing in public.) A boot drive of 250 GB is more than adequate for the OS and applications.

NOTE: There’s an axiom in the storage business that the faster a unit transfers data, the less data it can hold and the more it costs.

Rather than buy a large, internal SSD drive, I plan to spend a small fortune on a high-speed, fully-loaded Thunderbolt RAID 5 with a minimum of 8 drives. THAT provides all the storage and performance I need — even for editing 2K multicam clips containing up to 30 angles!

Think about it. Shoots are creating more and more media. My recent 13-episode 2 Reel Guys shoot geneerated 1.5 TB of data. There is no reason this should be stored on a boot drive. External media is plenty fast, holds a ton of media and can be easily transported from one place to another.

Spend your money on external storage, not the internal SSD drive.

A NOTE ON SPEED

Simply connecting a single hard drive to a computer via Thunderbolt does NOT mean you are getting Thunderbolt speeds. Just the opposite. As a rough measure, a spinning hard disk that is not enhanced with a small internal SSD booster, can read and write data about 120 MB/second, whether it is connected by USB 3 or Thunderbolt. (FireWire, by contrast, slows the drive down to about 80 MB/second.)

This means that in order to get the speed you expect from a Thunderbolt connection, you need to keep combining drives in a single unit (which is what a RAID is). To fully saturate (fill) a Thunderbolt 2 pipe, you would need a RAID containing about 20 drives!

A THOUGHT ON SLOTS

There’s been a lot of complaining about the lack of PCIe slots on the MacPro. I’m sympathetic, but, frankly, I’m not bothered by this.

Every significant vendor who supplies hardware to the Mac community is working on Thunderbolt devices. AJA, ATTO, Blackmagic Design, Matrox, Sonnet — all of them. Why? Because Thunderbolt devices are easier to install, configure, and, most importantly, support.

Plus, the new hardware data bus inside the Mac Pro is faster than the PCIe bus we’ve been using in current MacPros.

NOTE: For those with significant investments in PCIe cards, Sonnet has announced an expansion chassis that holds the cards and converts the interface into Thunderbolt 2.

For me, the simplicity of plugging in what I need and getting on with my work FAR outweighs the slight performance increase that might be obtained by custom-building a system. (Then, again, I’ve never been fascinated by doing my own home or car repairs. Others, though, find it fascinating. Each to his own.) I prefer getting work done to wasting time configuring; and Thunderbolt 2 is so blazingly fast, that I don’t expect to ever fully utilize it; even for high-resolution media.

SUMMARY

I plan to buy a new Mac Pro the week they ship, though probably not the first day. (As I’ve written before, I prefer to let someone else intercept the first arrows.)

I’ll spend more money on the GPU than the CPU. And I’m already looking for storage for this system. As we get closer, I’ll let you know what I decide to buy and how I configured it.

As always, I’m interested in your opinions.

Larry

Comments
90 Comments to “Larry’s Thoughts on the New MacPro”
  1. Don Warren says:

    Larry. I’m getting a new MacPro when they come out. Was wondering about any extra graphics cards needed for my HD display? Will likely use FCP X and Adobe CC. Also, if I am planning on doing 4K work, how beefy do I need to configure my system? Will eventually have 4K display. Currently, I use a Kona 3 card in my system with FCP 7. Have been waiting for the new MacPro before I upgrade.
    I have always enjoyed your work and humor. Keep it up.
    Peace,
    Don Warren

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Don:

      No extra graphics cards needed. All the GPU power you could want is inside the new MacPro.

      And this article assumes you want to edit 4K, so use this as a general spec until Apple announces final configurations.

      Larry

    • Sy says:

      How does (if at all) the new MacPro using the AMD GPU’s, perform the ray-tracing function as provided by NVIDIA TESLA card in collaboration with NVIDIA QUADRO line of cards

  2. Mark Bridges says:

    Hi Larry

    I’m looking to buy the MacPro as well. I’ve edited with FCP7 on my MacBook Pro and nevere needed Sound or Graphics cards for 2K footage – will i need to buys these as extras when I configure my system?

    Thanks!

  3. William Hohauser says:

    The question for me is how programs like Compressor or the DCP file generator I use which are CPU dependent will behave in these new MacPro computers. DCPs take a long time to render and want lots of cores.

  4. Lewis Wilson says:

    My system: 2.7 Ghz i7 quad core CPU, 1 GIG GPU, 8 GIGS of RAM on 15.4 inch screen that is 1680 pixels wide, with a 1 Terrabyte, 5400 rpm internal HD bought about Feb. 2013

    Hi Larry, I chose a 1 Terrabyte, 5400rpm hard drive when I bought my 15.4 inch MacBook Pro early in 2013. Have I made a bad decision on this drive speed ?? I am thinking of using Adobe Premiere and it seems to require a 7200rpm drive. I am running Final Cut Pro X at this time. I want to at lease edit well in 1080HD. Do I need to upgrade my Hard Drive ? If so, could you list the recommended upgrade paths from the less expensive choices first ?

    (One complaint against my current FCPX is the Ken Burns effect comes out stuffed with unacceptable artifacts on stills. Ken Burns works great on iMovie but Apple seems to have removed iDVD so I could not burn my production to DVD from iMovie. This makes me wonder about switching to Adobe Premiere. I definitely want to author BlueRay discs as well.)

    Thanks in Advance Larry

    Lewis Wilson

    • Sjoerd says:

      Never edit from internal drive, use a USB3 or Thunderbold drive for your media, and if you want you can install a SSD in to you MacBook pro

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Lewis:

      I agree with Sjoerd – never edit media on an internal drive. This is true for both FCP and Premiere. Always use an external drive. Ideally 7200 rpm. Even more ideally, a two-drive RAID 0 or better.

      Larry

  5. Todd Hudson says:

    Great article! I’m with Larry and will wait to purchase a Mac Pro after the vanguard. Why do you say “never edit media from an internal drive”?

    • Dr. Doug says:

      Because you don’t want to slow down the reading/writing of your video files when the computer has to go to the same hard drive to read your video application files.

  6. Mark Suszko says:

    How do you rack-mount this bad boy? :-)

  7. Frank T says:

    HI Larry, Your advice is always spot on – thanks. My question is I am shopping for a RAID 5 set of drives. I am ideally planning for Thunderbolt 2. I don’t know if that is realistic.

    What vendor for “high-speed, fully-loaded Thunderbolt RAID 5 with a minimum of 8 drives” are you considering?

    Which vendors will likely introduce Thunderbolt 2 on a timely basis?

    I am not having much luck finding RAID 5 drives of substance using Thunderbolt.

    Many thanks. Your the man!

    Frank

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Frank:

      Yeah. You have hit the proverbial nail right on the nubbin! This drives me nuts. Because the chip vendors are late creating Thunderbolt chips – OR Intel is very slow in approving them – OR everyone was waiting for Thunderbolt 2 – OR there’s a vast conspiracy to drive us all back to using floppy disks ….

      Anyway, these things are scarcer than hen’s teeth.

      There are two vendors currently that I know about: Promise, with their Pegasys line, and Areca, with CineRAID. At this point, no other drive manufacturer is on the record as providing RAID 5. I suspect there is a LOT of drama going on behind the scenes, but at this point, our options are limited.

      I am truly hoping this is resolved before the launch of the MacPro.

      Larry

    • Eric Hansen says:

      Hey Frank

      Only Promise has announced TB2 RAIDs, the Pegasus2 series: http://www.promise.com/promotion_page/promotion_page.aspx?region=en-US&rsn=166

      Areca will probably update their ARC-8050 to Thunderbolt 2 soon. Currently, the TB1 version is available at Maxx Digital as the ThunderRAID: http://www.maxxdigital.com/thunderraid-380.html

      with 8 drives in RAID5 or RAID6, there probably will be very little if any speed difference between TB1 and TB2. Here, the drives are still the limiting factor as Larry points out above.

  8. Tom Wheeler says:

    Larry,

    Thanks for another great article. I will definitely be purchasing a new Mac Pro when it comes out in December and I found your article to be quite helpful in preparing me for the choices that I will face once Apple provides full pricing detail on various configurations of the new Mac Pro.

    A quandary that you did not address in your article is what monitor to purchase for use with the new Mac Pro. Right now Apple’s Thunderbolt displays are not 4K and in fact only have USB 2 ports on them. I hate to purchase a pair of these for the new Mac Pro, but I am concerned that the very few 4K monitors out there by Sharp and Asus, for example, will not work well with the Mac Pro. Do you have any thoughts on monitors (4K or otherwise) that you would consider for the new Mac Pro that you plan to purchase?

    Again, thanks for all the great training articles and for the hard work you put into your weekly newsletter.

    Tom

    • Larry says:

      Tom:

      Well… I don’t know anything. But.

      Apple would not be touting its support for 4K computer monitors if it didn’t have some idea about where we could buy them.

      Larry

  9. Tim Kolb says:

    One area of the new Mac Pro that I find puzzling is the CPU configuration relative to the GPU. As anyone who has tested Adobe’s GPU acceleration knows, fast GPUs need serious input bandwidth upstream. The GPU itself doesn’t slice up an operation into 200 or 300 pieces so that all those parallel cores can process the task…that has to be handled prior to the GPU. In other words, packing a system like this with two GPU cards but running one CPU is like putting a bigger engine in a car for more power, but keeping a small fuel line for economy.
    Putting more GPU power in a system without balancing that with adequate CPU power to ‘administrate’ the process will simply add more parallel cores using power and waiting for data.

  10. Patrick says:

    Larry, had a discussion this morning with the Engineer responsible for keeping our editing systems running, and he is adamant that he can put together a PC with equal or more power than anything Apple makes, for a cost at least 30% cheaper than a Mac Pro. He calls this difference the “Apple Tax.” We currently have 4 MacPros in our dept., and all the editors would prefer to stay with Apple computers, but we may be forced to move to PCs, based solely on cost. Do you have any comments that we can use to “save” us from this fate?

    • Larry says:

      Do a test.

      Have him build one system and compare it to a MacPro. The comparison is NOT solely on lowest component cost, but how much of his time is needed to build and maintain the system, configuring it for video editing, virus preventtion (and the slow-downs caused by that software), cost of purchasing applications and configuring all drivers so that everything works.

      By the time you add everything together, including maintenance, the “Tax” will be FAR less than you think

      Then, run the two side by side and see which performs better.

      Larry

    • Tim Kolb says:

      I would be surprised if you could match configuration with like components on a self-assembled machine as the AMD GPU specs alone would cost more than the whole Mac Pro to match with retail (or even wholesale) AMD product.

      I think that the best way to justify a new MacPro will be to insist on FCPX as the edit software. I have to believe that Apple has worked some magic into their own hardware/software relationship that competitive software manufacturers won’t have access to…

      As far as the cost of the configurations, I think that the key factor is whether or not the MacPro will have some magical way to really lean into the GPU power in the system with a single CPU and affordable amounts of RAM. (yes…redundant with my post above).

      Even Windows systems with a single CPU don’t really utilize the capacity of huge GPU cards for editing tasks (much less two of them), no matter how large the CPU is…it’s a matter of traffic capacity and the ability to buffer up all that data for each GPU core rapidly enough to keep them all working…

      So…(at least on paper for the moment) the question will be whether one even needs to actually match the component parts in the MacPro to get NLE performance equal to it using the same editing software on another platform, and of course with FCPX there is no way to make that comparison anyway.

  11. Bill Dat says:

    I’ve been editing off internal drives on my tower for years and never had a problem. I don’t keep anything on the boot drive, but the other drives in that box are filled to the gills with video!

    • I, too have been editing on internal drives (NOT boot drive) in my MacPro tower for years and the Apple support guys always recommend internal over external for speed and reliability. But I suspect that Larry is referring to boot drives when he recommends not using the internal drive for editing.

      Thanks Larry for all the great info! You’re a treasure.

      Randolph

      • Bill Dat says:

        I have external drives as well and they don’t have the “always on” feel of the internal drives… but yes you are probably right, Larry is referring to the boot drive.

        • Larry Jordan says:

          Thanks, guys.

          You are correct. I was referring to the boot drive. On MacPros, editing of separate internal drives is just fine. However, this is an option that doesn’t exist with laptops or iMacs.

          Larry

          • Dan Weissman says:

            Actually, if you have any MacBook Pro with an optical drive, you can use Other World Computing’s Data Doubler to replace your optical drive w/an HD or SSD. I know several people who do this precisely to keep media files off the boot drive for editing, as the optical drive is of less importance to them relative to the inconvenience of carrying around even a small external drive. (IMHO, I don’t see an SSD as worth the $$ in this media application.)

            Sadly — very sadly — Jony Ive’s hell-bent-for-leather drive towards slimmer, lighter MBPs, coupled with Apple’s belief/desire that everyone lives in a world of ubiquitous connectivity (ie, everyone’s streaming, vs watching/burning discs), has led to the elimination of optical drives from every Apple product currently shipping, save a low-end 13″ MBP and the old Mac Pro.

            Which is why you’ll find me hanging onto my late-2011 MBP ’til they pry it from my cold, dead hands!

            - Dan

          • Leo says:

            I don’t understand how they expect the small guy to deliver final productions without use of disc-based media or at least a user-friendly option of menu driven flash drive options. I’d be willing to deliver some kind of media card to a client or end user if that’s what they preferred, but I don’t see any options for that. So why not allow us to have DVDStudio Pro in updated form?

            That’s why my old system will still be operational and essential to my workflow, just to deliver DVDs to people’s hands. But it would be nice to have the same menu and creation options for a BluRay disc that I have for a Std DVD.

            What software is anyone else using that works like DVDSP but delivers BR?

          • Don B says:

            Leo, check out Adobe Encore if you have the suite. It’s excellent. I have to deliver DVDs every week. Do a quick DVD in 5 minutes, or very elaborate authoring projects. It’s full featured and easy to learn (check out Lynda.com, take the course for v5/5.5 – $25 for a one month subscription). It too may be on life support (not upgraded at all for v6, but no need to). And it does BR.

          • Leo says:

            Is Encore available for Mac? I don’t own a PC. (Shivers). lol

          • Leo says:

            Larry, I agree that optical discs are going to go away at some point, but I don’t as yet see a delivery format that works when you make your money selling individual discs. Most projects I get paid for the project, but some, I get paid by how many DVDs I sell of a given event. I guess there may be a point when things like recitals and graduations won’t be recorded? Or, maybe a fee will be charged which covers the cost of production and they can “tune in” on YouTube or Vimeo etc and see what they paid for? I just don’t know how that will work out since many live events have music played you can’t control and it will get flagged by YouTube etc software detection.

            Oh well, that solution sounds fine for now. They don’t need any updates really since DVD/BR hasn’t changed much for years. lol

          • Don B says:

            Leo, Encore runs on Mac — it’s part of the Adobe suite. If you don’t want to subscribe you can still get CS6 online, but may not be worth it if this is the only program you’ll use. Encore is great. The Adobe Production suite is great, too.

  12. Dave Price says:

    So Larry — I was expecting Apple to announce a replacement for the Apple Thunderbolt Display, but they didn’t. Looking forward to a new display to go with the new Mac Pro. USB 3 and Thunderbolt 2 ports. Thin styling, like the new iMacs. Do you think we’ll see this?

  13. Peter says:

    If I currently have 2 x HP 24″ monitors, what is going to be the best way to use them with the new MP?

    Peter

  14. Don B says:

    Great article, as always!

    Some quick questions:
    – Can you boot externally via Thunderbolt?
    – Can SSD drives be cloned to external drives, and external drives cloned back to SSD? (I often clone systems)
    – Can an SSD be partitioned? If so, is performance affected?

    Thx!

  15. Glenn L says:

    My sense is that we will see Apple 4K monitors when we also see the rumored next generation Apple TV device(s).

  16. John A. Mozzer says:

    Considering all the talk about a 4K workflow, I’d like to know whether this means an uncompressed 4K workflow, or 4K in a compressed format such as ProRes. I assume that latter, but would like clarification. Thanks.

    • Larry Jordan says:

      John:

      That depends upon what “uncompressed” means to you. All 4K cameras, that I know about, record to one codec or another – whether it is Redcode RAW, ProRes 422HQ, or one of the Sony formats. No camera records purely unstructured data.

      I would assume – note that word – that 4K refers to ProRes 4444, unless another format, such as RED, is involved.

      Larry

  17. Dick Walters says:

    I crave new technology like most folks but I really don’t see much reason to abandon my 2010 MacPro plus my 2 27″ Cinema displays (although I read that the non TB displays will work with Thunderbolt 2). Might be more effective for me to simply upgrade the display card/GPU

  18. MARK JONES says:

    I think you just saved me a lot of money by switching my criteria to more GPU and less CPU. I’ll take that grand and spend it on upgrading the graphics cards. I already have 20 TB of storage on my Promise raid units so I’ll also take your recommendation on storage too.
    I ordered, and have in hand, 32GB of Ram from Crucial for this new Mac Pro. They already had it in stock but I bet they’ll be busy for the next month.
    Like you….I’ll be ordering the first week. I’m hoping they release a new monitor at the same time and I’m betting they will since it’s been almost two years since the last release.
    Thanks for the great advice.

  19. Bill says:

    Yes so it seems the new macpro and drive array would be $7000-8000. I bought an amd 7970 to speed up Fcpx, well turns out the card offers no speed benefit over and 5770, so I’m wondering if Fcpx is going to be updated to take better advantage of amd chips? Or if the 7970 is a dead end and I’d be better off investing in nvidia?! Thanks!

  20. Jerry_r says:

    Thanks this answers a major problem that I saw, without either Fibre Channel or 100GigE networking a group via a SAN is not feasible for smooth 4k production; that will be here soon for some shops and 8K is coming. Assuming the Sonnet supports at least 4 lane PCIe it may solve the problem.

    The remaining problem is that RAID5 only protects a single disk failure at a time. If a second disk fails (before the problem is detected or the rebuild is complete) you loose the project. There is a good paper on this that shows that the largest number of disk drives that can operate reliably is ~12–14¹ or 18Tb¹ whichever comes first.

    There are PCIe controllers which implement RAID6—you can loose two disks and recover. With the higher MTBF of the latest disks this could get quite large. One way to get around the RAID5 limitations and get much higher throughput is using the SEGATE 15,000 RPM SAS disks but the will get expensive quickly and will require an 8–16 lane controller. AFAIK ATTO makes one and so does Rocket RAID. There are two issues; cost and availability of drivers for the Mac.

    ¹ With the higher MTBF and better error correction these numbers may need to be revised upwards

  21. John Lincoln says:

    Great article, Larry, as always. My question is whether there is a compelling reason to install (and to use?) both Adobe CC, and Adobe CS 6, on the same workstation. You must have a good reason. What is it? Thanks.

    • Larry says:

      CS6 was already installed when I upgraded to CC. Since CC doesn’t erase CS6, I now have both. For older projects I use CS6. For newer projects, I use CC.

      Larry

  22. Nate says:

    Don’t do it Larry. Build a custom Mac, it is cheaper. http://www.tonymacx86.com

  23. Spiro Carras says:

    Thanks Mr. jordan
    1. can you daisy chain the new mac pro and how can you use the CPU for multiple editors working on the same project
    2. how many 2K or 4K displays can you possibly connect for installations involving multiple displays
    3. can you update / replace the graphics card
    4. what about the NEW FCP X … being feature film ready and PROFESSIONAL

    any ideas?

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Spiro:

      I don’t know all these answers, but…

      1. The MacPro is for one user at a time.
      2. Apple says three 4K monitors can be connected.
      3. I’ve read rumors that the graphic card can be updated, but I don’t know for sure
      4. “Professional” is a very squirrelly term – we shall have to wait and see what Apple releases.

      Larry

  24. Ferdydurke says:

    Following up on your recs to spend on video and an outboard RAID – so, you’d recommend the 4 core with the most powerful video chip available? I’d be cutting using AVID MC7 and the Adobe CC suite plus a few oddball utilities – 1080p30 for now, 4K down the road. I have a number of legacy FW800/USB3 RocStor drives which I imagine I’ll chain on one of the Thunderbolt ports using an adaptor, and go TB2 RAID in the future. Dual Apple TB monitors for now? TIA for your advice…

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Ferdydurke:

      AT THE MOMENT… before these systems ship… as I am reflecting on this a bit (in other words, I may change my mind after the systems are released)… I am leaning toward getting the 6-core processor with a top line GPU.

      I’d migrate all my FireWire data to a multi-drive Thunderbolt RAID simply for performance reasons.

      Monitors I haven’t thought about.

      Larry

  25. Nick says:

    Considering the emphasis on GPU power, does the new Mac Pro fall short for Premiere users? AMD chips have long lagged behind NVIDIA, especially in their integration with Adobe products. Does it make more sense to go PC for a Premiere workstation with Apple now firmly planted in the AMD camp?

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Nick:

      My understanding is that these AMD chips are seriously fast. However, we won’t be able to compare them to NVIDIA until the Mac Pro actually ships.

      Larry

      • Tim Kolb says:

        Adobe uses OpenCL as well as CUDA for GPU acceleration, so in theory at least, the GPUs should work just fine for Adobe work.

        I think my question is still whether there’s enough computer configured in front of those GPUs to actually utilize them to their potential. Powerful GPUs are wonderful, but if they are waiting for data to come from the rest of the machine because the configuration can’t queue data as fast as the GPUs process it, then you have money invested in hardware that isn’t producing results.

        On paper at least, a computer with one CPU (even as robust as these are…) and two monster GPUs appears to be potentially out of balance.

        Only time will tell if Apple has devised a way to utilize these GPUs efficiently which defies standard orthodoxy…though they seem to have defied standard orthodoxy once or twice in the past with some success…

  26. Leo says:

    Larry, a bit off topic, but I can’t spring for this new MacPro (but we all wish we could). I do need to upgrade to a new Mac of some kind and FCPX. So my question is simple. Planning on editing only standard HD video from a JVC GY HM150u which is 35mbps in EXCAM format wrapped in QT so it plays nicely with Apple and FCPX, which way would you go, MacBook Pro or iMac? And would the 21.5″ iMac with 1GB VRAM be good enough for most things like 8 layers or so of blue/green screen video? With the possible expansion eventually to using a Panasonic Lumix which shoots up to 70mbps, I definitely plan on that JVC camera as my main camera.

    I know I need a TB or two of media to write to as well, but what might your system look like if NOT shooting 4k was in the cards for you? Would you go MacBook Pro or iMac?

    Thanks!

  27. Andacar says:

    I’m glad to see that Apple has revived the Mac Pro, as I was afraid it was a lost cause. However, as a graphics professional I have to look at computer choice in a cold, rational fashion. Being a fan of a brand is fine if you are buying a phone, an everyday use gadget. But I need a huge monster to crank out video, 3D animation and other gigantic tasks that doesn’t cost a fortune. I don’t care what it looks like because it’s going to sit under my desk anyway. I could care less about browser and OS wars. I gave up on being a computer loyalist decades ago.

    The game is different in the workstation market, because the Mac Pro has to go up against machines like the ones made by BOXX technologies feature for feature, dollar for dollar. I’m concerned that Apple chose DDR3 instead of DDR4. I’m concerned that Final Cut appears to be on life support. Apple fanaticism is cool, I guess, but I can’t run a business around that.

    So what is a simple, sound reason to buy a Mac Pro as opposed to other workstations?

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Andacar:

      First, even if you wanted one, the Mac Pro isn’t shipping yet. Until the Mac Pro ships, we don’t know pricing and we don’t know performance specs. All we KNOW is that there are a lot of rumors and hypothetical “what-ifs.”

      What makes the MOST sense, to me, is to wait, see what Apple ships, then have a dialog about the facts, rather than guesses about what the facts might be.

      Larry

    • Leo says:

      I think you are mistaken about FCPX being on life support. It TOO is getting a major update which will bring back much of what everyone wanted or needed and will go in directions not yet charted.

      Consider the fact that this machine will be cheaper to run since the cooling of the CPU alone won’t run 5 fans or special coolants to keep from overheating. As for fanaticism, it’s what has kept Mac alive in the 90s when their entire business was on life support until now when they have overtaken every other business except fossil fuel giant Exxon although that is debatable every couple of days. My point is building a business around a company’s products that said company isn’t going under anytime soon isn’t a bad idea. ;-)

      • Andacar says:

        Leo, I never said Apple was going under anytime soon (although neither is Microsoft). Obviously they are incredibly profitable. I just see their focus moving to different things now, and the Mac in general seems to be less of a priority than iPhones, iPads, and so on. As for the fans bit, the cost of running cooling fans is the least of my concerns.

        • Leo says:

          I wasn’t implying MS as going under, but you specifically mentioned BOXX technologies. They are the Johnny Come Lately that I was implying. Although, they too probably aren’t going anywhere, but they aren’t Apple. That was my point. And Apple isn’t ditching FCP users for iPad users etc since so much of the content people connect to via iPads/iPhonesiWatches (being future conscious) is made on iMacs, MacBooks etc. One hand feeds the other. I think you were scared because they screwed the pooch with the way they handled FCPX. YES! They totally screwed that up. But they didn’t run away from it since they could have, yet addressed fixing everything so far that’s been asked of them. If they wanted to abandon the creative users, they would have by now. Hey, Adobe hasn’t abandoned Mac yet. And they could since they have their own solutions to everything from scriptwriting to final output.

          Oh I am not trying to discount your fear of a disrupted business because of their screw ups. I TOTALLY understand that happened to many many people and businesses. That wasn’t fair one bit! It’s like the stock crash of 1929 caused Groucho Marx and others to lose sleep for years after. It sticks with you. I wasn’t bit because I have not made the leap to HD. I am getting bit now and need to switch over soon. REAL soon! lol But I get the luxury of moving over to FCPX after the shenanigans are over. I get to bitch and moan about workflow until I get the hang of it and realize it’s probably better than before. (That’s what others have told me about it).

          I just don’t see how you can say FCPX is on life support is all.

    • Andacar says:

      That makes perfect sense Larry!

      • Tim Kolb says:

        I’m not sure at what point Apple invented the work station…while “Johnny come lately” BOXX Systems isn’t Apple, they aren’t trying to be… But make no mistake, the new Mac Pro will be measured against the fire-breathing, exceptionally stable (and exceptionally well-supported) BOXX workstations that are used for heavy lifting in post production along with HP’s Z8xx monsters.

        The new MacPro, and its ecosystem of peripherals will need to compete with the expansion potential of these Windows machines, many of which have replaced MacPros which have become out dated over the time the product line has been stagnating…

        Macs are great, but unless FCPX is your specific tool of choice, they have to compete for seats in the world of video post production on the basis of cost-effectiveness. That will only be known once the machines are shipping.

  28. Leo says:

    “Workstation” “MacPro” call it what you will. It’s a computer! BOXX makes their money on what? Selling software or boxes? Mac makes their money on what? Selling software, boxes, tablets, phones, apps, music, video…. So they seemed to have decided that their next machine needs to compete or I guess they’ll fold up that tent. Why else would they bother making a new machine?

    We all know they have not updated the Pro line in a while which is why this is much anticipated. It will either make or break them for about 5 years in this part of their business if they can’t deliver a decent, or GREAT product. So I agree, they do need to compete, but BOXX is not the only company making computer workstations to do video editing on and I doubt it runs FCPX which may actually be the way of editors of the future. Remember, it’s what most kids and teens and young filmmakers are using and will get used to now. So, like it or not, it may be here to stay despite what some of us older folks think about the way it “looks” or “feels”.

    What’s actually nice about this new machine is that many who have adopted iMac as their machine of choice with Thunderbolt peripherals is that they won’t need a whole bunch of new cards to add or internal drives to fit into it. They just plug the thunderbolt add-ons and keep moving, only much faster (we all presume).

    • Tim Kolb says:

      I guess FCPX making the MacPro an obvious choice was my point…I’m significantly less of an FCPX detractor than most non-FCPX users are…the software is being adopted and used and it will have its place, no question.

      My second point though was that the machine will have to compete for seats for users of cross-platform software, and the large Windows boxes have made significant inroads in that market over the last handful of years.

  29. Bill says:

    I admit that I hoped cost of entry would have been cheaper, but a large part of that is the cost to Apple of the components. Intel charges a lot for their high end chips. If I were to upgrade my 2008 8-core to a 6-core 2013 mac pro, it will probably be at least $5000, with the extra peripherals, and give me 80-100% speed improvement. I could still use my raid card with an external chassis, but all that adds up. So the speed improvement really needs to be impressive to justify the upgrade since I can still update to an SSD, already got a 7970 card (which by the way, seems to run slower than the 5770 in fcpx, which I’m hoping will change come fcp x 10.1). So my machine runs around 10,000 on geek bench, the new 12-core is somewhere around 30,000, but is probably going to cost over $7000…so I guess a few tweaks on my current mac pro will probably suffice. I just hope intel won’t take 4 years to update to the next xeon. But then if they don’t have any competition from AMD, then we’re stuck on Intel’s whims.

  30. Bill says:

    Oh, I do think fcpx really does need an ssd, I have a 7200 WD Black as my boot drive and all sorts of user interface lags occur that honestly drive me nuts at times. Plus, when I paste effects to clips, you have to often re-click on the clip to get it to appear…its like the caching of the software reverts to the last clip you were looking at…strange and annoying at times. So hopefully those interface bugs will be addressed as well.

  31. DaleJohnson says:

    I saw an article on an app that can remove a siren from a location recorded track, as well as do other amazing clean up chores. I thought I might have read that article on your web site, but have been unable to find it. Is this something you might be familiar with?

    Thanks

  32. Dick Walters says:

    My workflow and my bank account will probably dictate that I keep my 2010 MacPro and perhaps upgrade the GPU to a flashed ATI 6870.

  33. Dean says:

    Larry, do you know of any good data on the reliability of using PCIe expansion boxes? I’ve got a lot fast storage that I run on a mini SAS system, am considering a new MacPro connected via TB to my RocketRaid card in a PCI expansion chassis. If this system works well, and I don’t see why it won’t, this eases the transition a lot to a non-expandable computer.

  34. Greg Hammons says:

    Larry,
    After waiting forever for the new MacPro, I have finally decided to get a MacBook Pro laptop instead. I am interested in getting the 13″ MacBook with Retina, 2.8GhZ dual-core i7 CPU. I plan to use a dock and use my twin 23″ monitors and RAID, keyboard, mouse, etc. Do you think this will work for video editing? I am not sure if the intel iris graphics will be enough? After reading your article I am curious if I can edit with the laptop utilizing thunderbolt scratch drives and thunderbolt I/O devices? What are your recommendations for editing using a MacBook Pro?

  35. Michael Breeding says:

    Larry,

    Thanks for the good article.
    What brand Thurderbolt will/did you purchase?

    Thanks,
    Michael

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